UFC star Robert Whittaker puts his middleweight title on the line this Sunday.

The Te Arawa man will defend his middleweight title against Yoel Romero after a long layoff due to injury and illness.

The upcoming match is a re-match against the Cuban who he outpointed in Las Vegas last July.

Whittaker won the interim title on a points decision. 

The Australian fighter is proud to represent his taha Māori (Māori heritage) on the world stage.


"Super gratifying you know I’ve always been proud of my Māori roots and to have the support from NZ is just you know it means the world to me, it’s half of what I am."


After 11 months of being out of action due to injuries, Whittaker believes he's in the best shape of his life.


"This is the best I’ve ever been come fight week."


He also revealed part of his strategy to take down Romero.


"You gotta drag him out, you gotta get him tired and you gotta take advantage of that.

"Go out there dictate the pace and hit him."


Whittaker encourages more Māori to join the growing sport. He believes Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is more than just brutality, he says the name of the game is discipline.


"Once people understand that this sport is so much more than brutality and they see the skill levels, the athleticism behind it they’ll realise that we are athletes of the highest calibre."


To help prepare him for the upcoming match, he qualified for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in wrestling.


Despite the diversion, he has kept his eye on the prize.


"Every day this year this is all I’ve worked for is this fight, so to get a win it means the world."


The fight will be held this Sunday at 2 pm in Chicago.